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January 02, 2006


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for many of you people that don't understand, I'll simplify it for you all.
Confucianism is ingrained in us. It has been the fabric of our lives for many centuries. Although many are turning towards christianity, all are still affected by confucian mannerism whether they are conscious of it or not. You'd have to practice a little bit of it to notice the subtle differences in everyday life. not that i'm a pro or practioner or anything.. just letting you people know.


I had started writing a very long comment on this, but it evaporated when I forgot to save it while rebooting. Maybe I'll get back to it. In the meantime, I'll say that I think you are correct in speculating that the contemporary self-identification of Korea as "confucian" has more than a little whiff of cultural longing for a (supposed) lost golden age about it - just as confucianism itself does. Korea's divorce rate is about the same as that in the US. if not greater; among the younger generations it is greater. Despite the confucian strictures about self mutiliation that result in tatooed people getting the hairy eyeball, Korea is the plastic surgery capital ot the world. In public life, confucianism is a bad joke, exemplified by public officials who vociferously deny their wrongdoing until the evidence is so overwhelming that to continue to do so would itself constitute a loss of face, then perform the perfunctory bow of apology as part of the cynical ritual in which their colleagues in the ruling class arrange for them to be pardoned from any serious punishment. There probably is a high incidence of the practice of genuine "confucian" virtues in families - higher than say in the States, but I'm not sure what sense it makes to call these virtues "confucian"; they also were and are present in my geneaologically and chronologically extended American family, with its all its Welsh, German, Scots-Irish and Italian, catholic, protestant and non-believer components. To the extent that confucianism has ever been anything else in Korea, other than as a subject of scholarly study and debate, it has - in the hands of 16th century dynasts and twentieth century dictators -- been an instrument of nation-building with all the very large doses of suppression, repression, persecution and physical violence against non-conformists that one can imagine.

I have lived all over the world and can speak several languages, two of which are Oriental languages, Korean and Japanese. I am an American. I have a deep and intense interest in culture and I am an ESL professor. I have attended many classes and seminars to help me understand culture both in the U. S. and in Japan. I have now been in Korea for a little over two years.

I am teaching at a university where we have a place called The International Zone. In the International Zone, students come who want to have conversations in English. During one of my recent sessions there, a Baptist preacher from the Presbyterian church who is a student at our univeristy told me that churches in Korea are organized on the Confucian model. I have been completely amazed that a Baptist preacher can preach at a Presbyterian church because that would not happen in the U. S.

There is a phenomonom in the Korean churches. The churches all have the names like they do in other countries, but they share and make no difference between them, but still retain the denominational names. If one church does it, all the other churches think they should consider doing it too. They have Christianity in general, which is good, but if so, why should they retain the names because the denominational names label them as differenct from one another?

This sharing between churches is how a Baptist Pastor can preach for a Presbyterian church. In fact, they call him "Senior Pastor." I have some Presbyterian friends in another town, and they are always talking about the "Senior Pastor." In the church where I attend from America, we don't have anything like it, so I have had trouble understanding it. As I have traveled around the world, I have seen lots of different churches organized in lots of ways, but I still think that if the church is Christian, it should be organized according to the model in the Bible for organization, so I asked this Baptist "Senior Pastor" from the Presbyterian church how it can be that he is preaching for a Presbyterian church. He explained to me that Korea is put together on the Confucian model, and they orgainized their churches according to the Confucian model of society.

The Christian moral principals and the principals of the family are almost exactly the same as Confucianism. It looks to me like the Korean Christians have seen the similarities in the morals and the family and gone for calling themselves Christians, but still retained the Oriental values of Confucianism. They are still Confucian, but they call themselves Christians.

I think they call themselves Christians because of the influence that America has had on them. American threw the Japanese and the N. Koreans out of S. Korean. Korea will forever be indebted to America. During the time that the American soldiers were in S. Korea is when Christianity grew more than at any other time. The hearts of S. Korea forever turned toward the Americans because they were liberated from two oppressors by American soldiers. The Koreans could see the sameness in the values of the American Christian soldiers, and they were grateful, but they retained their Orientalness because they still had those deep Confucian roots. They just mixed the two together and called it Christianity. In circles of where people study culture, that is called sycretism. From my experience, the average Korean Christian doesn't know much about the Bible, and it doesn't matter because they have the deep moral values of Confucianism inside of them that have been instilled in them from the time they were born. I think they are just Confucianists that carry the name of Christ out of gratitude to the American Chrisitian soldiers, but really don't understand what they have done.

If they were Christians, they would put Christ on the throne and not Confucious or American soldiers no matter how good the two are. They would care about what is written in their Bibles and study the Bible more. They
would also organize their churches according to the Bible, and not according to how some American missionary told them or how Confucians do it.

I recently edited a paper for a Korean Bible professor from our university. He was talking about a model for Korean theology. He said that two generations ago, the Korean theologians tried to mesh Christianity with the S. Korean society. They did it based on the Korean flag, and the Korean flag is full of Oriental philosophy. Again, he was talking about sycretism.

I am glad that the S. Korean society considers itself Christian because I am a Christian, and I feel very good in S. Korea, but I think they need to stop and look at themselves. Are they really Chrisitan? Is it the the Bible that they are really following? Is it the American soldiers they are following? Or is it Confucianism they are following?--Can you follow all three at the same time? Christianity teaches that you can't. Christ says he is "the way, the truth, and the life," and he says no one can go to the Father (God) except through him. The book of Revelation teaches that Christ is the only one in the whole world throughout time that was worthy to bring the message of redemtion to mankind.

I love the way things are done in S. Korea, but I really think S. Koreans who want to be Christians need to stop and look at their value systems and the way they are doing things and ask themselves if they are Confucian, Christian, or the product of being grateful to American soldiers.

To Ronda:

What you are essentially asking is that for Koreans to become Christian, we give up our own Korean culture. This suggests to me that even if you do know the Korean language, you have no understanding or respect for our culture.

The Christianity you practice is itself a syncretism of Judaic and Greek elements---there is no such thing as a "pure" Christianity. The Christianity you practice has been deeply influenced by Ancient Greek, European, and American philosophy---yet nobody suggests that you give up your culture in order to practice your religion.

I would also remind you that Korean society, in Korea and abroad, is diverse. Korean society is most definitely not "Christian", only a portion of it is. The majority of Koreans have no religious affiliation and over 20% are Buddhist.

To Ronda:

Thank you for sharing your brand of theology, which I can see, is your guiding principle in dealing with all these pagans. Thank you for helping me to understand how the 500 nations of Native Americans can be systematically wiped out with a clear conscience and a strong purpose.

I just wonder: if Jesus really returns from his grave and look at you “Christians", will he recognize you as his followers, or will he simply says with his trademark straightforwardness, “I don't know you."?



"Christian soldiers"

"Korea will forever be indebted to America."


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